If it weren't for Brad Pitt, we may not have ever seen 12 Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen's new real-life pre-Civil War drama. It's being called one of this year's best films.
The film's star (and one of its many likely Oscar contenders) Chiwetel Ejiofor credits Pitt for getting the movie made. While Pitt has a small role in the film, he's also one of its producers.
"I think the truth is we wouldn't have been able to make this film without Brad Pitt, because of what he brings," Ejiofor told me at the movie's L.A. premiere. "He's a movie star. He's a huge figure in this profession, in this industry.
"So him coming on board and him being a producer made, I think, the complete difference to make the film," he continued. "It just goes to show what an individual could do when they have that kind of reach and they're prepared to use it to support filmmakers. I'm deeply grateful to him for allowing this film to be made."
12 Years a Slave is the brutal real-life story of Solomon Northup, a black freeman living in New York before the Civil War who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Michael Fassbender costars as a sadistic plantation owner with newcomer Lupita Nyong'o playing one of his slaves. Pitt plays a Canadian carpenter who befriends Northup.
McQueen praised Pitt's passion for the project. "Brad is a great producer because he's a filmmaker, he's an artist," he said. "When you have an actor who is a producer, he wants the best for the director."